Property owners are responsible for protecting people on their property from unreasonably dangerous conditions of snow and ice. Responsibilities include clearing snow and ice from the ground. However, property owners must also be mindful of snow and ice that falls from rooftops. If snow or ice accumulates and falls onto a passerby or a visitor, a property owner may be liable to the victim for any resulting injuries. The victim may be able to sue the property owner for money damages.
On July 13, 2015, the Big Four Ice Caves in Washington State partially collapsed. The collapse killed one person and injured four others. The body of the dead hiker has not yet been identified. The body remains buried under the debris while officials temporarily stop the recovery effort. The cave site will remain closed until the body can be retrieved.
Three of the injured hikers were airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Washington. The fourth injured hiker, a young girl, was taken to the Providence Medical Center in Everett, Washington because her injuries were less severe.
The remote cave site is located in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The area is so remote that it lacks cell phone service. Therefore, it took survivors 45 minutes before they could alert authorities about the accident.
This collapse was the second such incident in two days. The cave collapsed just one day earlier, trapping tourists inside. However, no one was injured that day. According to the International Business Times, the cave has also collapsed in past years. In July 2010, an 11-year-old girl named Grace Tam died when the cave collapsed. Her family filed a lawsuit against the United States Forest Service. The lawsuit alleged that the caves were dangerous but lacked proper warning signs. However, this lawsuit was dismissed.